5 Professional Growth + Networking Tips for PR Students on a Budget

Written by Ashley Carter

Does this sound familiar?

Mapping out how you plan to juggle a full class schedule while making it to your internship three times a week (on a quarter tank of gas), and finding funds to boost your net-worth by growing your network.

The need to put one eye toward job security comes graduation with the immediate stressors of classes, exams, and a host of educational expenses is why we have the “broke college student” stereotype.

One day the tassel will be worth the hassle, but for right now you may be facing limited time and limited budget to go to all the networking events and conferences on your bucket list. So instead, let’s strategize and get creative.

 

1. OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT FOR professional development with an automatic draw

Take it from a PR student that lived in the suburbs. Traveling to the city for events isn’t always feasible. Start saving for events by opening a savings account strictly for your PR social life and sock away $10 a month toward online PR courses, conferences and mixers. Without even knowing it, you’ll have a nice bundle of cash to put toward your future self. Deploy this strategy to save your coins and reserve your seat at the table.

2. ASK NEW AND POTENTIAL CONNECTIONS FOR COFFEE

Most students work with a tight schedule. You will not make every networking event. Optimize and strategize your time by inviting a new or potential connection out for coffee — a savvy and exclusive way of getting the 411 on how that person began their career. Most events include a bio of keynote speakers, do your research, and instead of asking to pick their brains, ask them for specific advice. If going out for coffee isn’t an option, offer to bring it to them. Be prepared, personable and quick – and watch your connections – and caffeination – grow!

3. Create a low cost personal brand

With so many free and low cost website templates, social media templates and places to order swag, there’s no reason not to make the internet work hard for you, even if you’re cramming for a midterm. Start with a logo and color palette, made easy with a tool like Canva. With a simple and user-friendly design platform, Canva operates as a free and efficient essential for PR students. Over hundreds of templates offer a quick and easy way to create authentic business card designs and more.

4. THANK YOU CARDS

I know I’m not the only one who loves stationery. Seal your most genuine connections with a handwritten note. These connections may include interviewers, a professor or mentor. Remember to appreciate those who support you and pay it forward. For those who have a hard time putting a stamp on it, check out a service like Postable to automate this outreach.

5. FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU

Never become so consumed with making connections or so focused on your future job that you forget how to be human with those on the same journey as you are. As students, most of us meditate on what connection will land our next internship or who will give us our next big break. I guarantee that not everyone is going to have a job to offer you, but they may lend a shoulder to cry on when that tenth rejection email hits your inbox or recommend you for a second internship position when it opens up. Say hello to the people you meet, be curious about your fellow classmates and go the extra mile to connect with your professors. It costs nothing to be kind and present in your experiences yet the dividends are plenty.
About This Author

A Magna Cum Laude graduate from Rowan University, Ashley Carter started her love for public relations freshman year of university. After studying communications, she became intrigued by the strategy behind famous PR campaigns such as #Likeagirl by agency Proctor and Gamble. She soon transferred to Rowan, excited to make her mark she joined her university PRSSA e-board as Community Service Chair. Wanting more out of client-based communications she’s interned at Skai Blue Media, Philadelphia Youth Network, and now works as an Event Specialist for start-up, Love & Luxe Collegiate. A hardworking Capricorn with a passion for media and strategy, and blogging she’s very excited to continue on in her professional journey.